string quartet

Objects — by Arnold Steinhardt

Last summer I was once again a participant in the Marlboro Music Festival.  As always, the school generously provided my wife, Dorothea, and me with a house off campus. This time we were given the former home of David Soyer, the cellist of our Guarneri String Quartet for thirty-seven of its forty-five-year existence. Dave passed away in 2010, his wife, Janet, in 2011. I knew Dave and Janet’s house rather well, a charming, rustic old place set in the woods, and I looked forward to staying in it.  When people asked me whether I wouldn’t feel funny living in their house now that they were gone, I laughed and said no at first without really thinking much about it.  But then I began to wonder whether Dave and Janet would [...]

Keeping Healthy On The Road (or in Your Dorm, Home or Apartment) — by Mark Summer

The fall being my busiest touring season with Turtle Island, I’m often thinking of the best ways to stay healthy and happy throughout the dark days of “flu season.” After years of almost constant travel, with endless days of connecting plane flights, shared van rides, and occasionally horrifically early lobby calls, I feel somewhat qualified as an expert at keeping my body in tune enough to weather the storm of illnesses that plague the general population. In 27 years, I’ve never missed a concert due to illness. I thought I had the flu once while on the road, but at a recent physical/flu shot pitch, my doctor informed me that if I was able to play a concert, it wasn’t the flu. Nevertheless, my record speaks for itself. I’m not [...]

Teaching at Cello: An American Experience — by Mark Summer

As a founding member of the Turtle Island Quartet, I am grateful to Paul Katz for asking me to contribute to CelloBello. As a conservatory-trained, improvising cellist, I hope I can bring a unique perspective to this forum with thoughts on performing, teaching, and traveling with my cello. This past summer I enjoyed five days of intensely rewarding teaching and performing at the summer music program, Cello: An American Experience. The program attracted 18 young cellists from around the country, and is held at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, 44 miles south of Minneapolis. Left to right: Avery Johnson and Mark Summer My introduction to Cello: An American Experience began with a Facebook message sent to me from the director, and my old colleague, Anna Clift. Anna [...]

Sound Designer — by Jeffrey Zeigler

As we continue our discussion about the various ways to integrate a sophisticated approach to sound design, there is one point that I would like to make before we get to far into the equipment nitty-gritty. That is of the need for your own sound designer. I think that the person in this role has both the most important as well as the most unsung job in a given concert. Important because they have complete responsibility for how you actually will sound in the hall. You may play wonderfully, but it could all be for nothing if, for example, the sound person has set you up to sound brash and tinny. But I also say unsung because the audience will only see them as the person standing at the mixing [...]

I Found my “Dream Quartet” in an Unexpected Industry — by Margo Drakos

My love for string quartets drew me to the cello, or rather, it motivated me to practice. It isn’t just the repertoire—I was hooked by the music the first time I ever heard the early Guarneri recording of the Cavatina and Grosse Fuge.  I love the idealist concept of a quartet, and the feeling of playing an individual voice that joins together with three other voices to form a single interdependent expression.   I also love the cellist’s role in a quartet, as it requires a multitude of skills.  At once the quartet cellist is the anchor, sometimes quietly without notice, sometimes with declarative strength, sometimes a supportive counterpart, yet at other times is the prominent, docile melody.  I have taken great pride in seeking the seemingly unattainable perfection of [...]

Cycles, Shostakovich, and the Final Four — Brandon Vamos

I often get asked about performing cycles. I am a member of a Quartet that is passionate about performing cycles of music, including the complete string quartets of Beethoven, Carter, Mendelssohn, and Shostakovich (among others). But why bother with cycles? What do they have to offer us a musicians or audience members? I like to think of it like I think of my Vikings (in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan). Why bother following a team game to game or season to season? Well for one, you start to learn the language of the game. Not just the game of football itself, but how that TEAM plays the game. The aggressive way they run plays or their team personality, what feeling they leave with you at the end [...]

Seeing a Bigger Picture — by Yeesun Kim

As a young cellist, I gratefully accepted my teachers' generous offers of bowings, fingerings and phrasing suggestions to many  pieces I studied. These suggestions were well tested in numerous performances, were given thoughtful evaluation that took into account the personal convictions of many great musicians. At that time, I was not particularly in the habit of questioning and reasoning for myself. In a sense,  other than what I HAD to contribute, I trusted that all this work would and should settle into a successful interpretation. Since becoming the cellist of a professional string quartet (the Borromeo String Quartet), my attitude HAD to change completely. Now, it was not possible to participate in making music without evaluating ALL that was in the score. The pieces in the repertoire of the string [...]

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